Late bloomer: a false notion

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What is success and is there any time limit for it? People refer to life as a marathon and not a sprint, so why do we still support a concept like “late bloomers”. How can it be ever too late to be successful? Isn’t success a relative concept?

Why categorize success as of late or early?

Success is the feeling of satisfaction combined with the establishment of goals. Goals you decide for yourself, the outcomes you decide are favorable to you. It is relative because a particular feat may be labeled as a success for some while some might consider it a stepping stone. The finish line is a blurry idea because it changes from person to person and there is no fixed number of achievements; there is always scope for more. Then why do people try to categorize success in terms of duration i.e., early or late? In this fast-paced competitive world, it is obvious that early success is appreciated and desirable, but aren’t many of us still wondering, exploring, and starting relatively “late”.

A concept or supposedly misconception, has made people continuously run for gain or fame. The competitive nature of society has given rise to the urge of accomplishing everything early on in life, mostly to be able to enjoy prime years of life. Many still do live with such unrealistic expectations, because they fail to understand life is all about struggle, improvement, and growth. The competition is between our past self and current so that our future us can be better.

Don’t get it wrong, early success is possible and deserves to be celebrated, but it’s hard and unlikely. As the famous quote from the movie 3 Idiots go; shouldn’t our pursuit be of excellence and not success?

What is wrong with the concept?

Complaints about the notion of late-blooming have made us more conscious about the destination than the journey itself. We are so consumed about achieving success before others that we care lesser and lesser about the process. The idea of, success is a success, late or early, should be normalized.

The notion makes us terrified of taking risks, or exploring our interests as we grow older. It makes us question ourselves a lot if we feel like shifting gears in careers. It makes us run aimlessly in an impractical race to success, and most of all, worry about what society will think about our decisions. This hints at the pre-existing mindset of deadlines of achievement. Unconsciously, people assume that certain goals should be accomplished at a certain time. Like bagging a good placement after degree, or being completely settled by thirty. A certain age to marry, certain age to achieve a position in a company, we are running day and night to meet this deadline, because deep down we are afraid to be left behind. Even considering taking a gap year after graduation to plan the next step is met with questions and doubts.

Correcting the misconception

It is time that we realize chasing any dream, any profession can never be “too late”. Because no one’s watching if it is. What counts is us pursuing things we enjoy and practicing them no matter how long it takes. Your success; goals accomplishing which, makes you feel successful, should not be linked with your age or the time you took to reach it. It is normal to feel anxious or frustrated when someone accomplishes the same goal or more in lesser time but that is how life is. The ups and downs of life aren’t the same for all, and some do get a head start in this marathon as circumstances are different from person to person. Hence, in the larger picture, comparison especially based on achieving success early, is only a waste of time and effort.

People who succeeded later in life

Following are some of the inspiring people who became successful at a later stage of life:

Stan Lee

The first one to make the list, father of the Marvel Universe, is Stan Lee. One may not believe the fact that he created his first comic, The Fantastic Four, at nearly 40 years old. He went on to co-create many more superheroes known widely over the world, that are now popular cultural icons among kids and adults alike.

Vera Wang

Vera Wang planned to become a successful figure skater but failed to make the U.S. Olympics team. Only then did she enter the fashion industry and was hired as an editor at Vogue (a popular fashion magazine) after graduation, making her the youngest editor at Vogue magazine. She worked for 17 years at Vogue and then 2 years at Ralph Lauren and finally went on to resign at 40 to become an independent designer. At 72, she is a self-made multimillionaire widely recognized for her bridal wear collections, thriving for more than 50 years in the fashion industry!

Samuel L. Jackson

With numerous hits to his name, Samuel L. Jackson got his big break when he appeared as Gator Purify in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever in 1991 at the age of 43. He was nominated for the esteemed Oscar Award for his performance in Pulp Fiction in 1994. He has then starred in blockbusters including Marvel films as Nick Fury, Django Unchained, A Time to Kill among many.

Colonel Sanders

Who hasn’t heard about KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), one of the most popular American fast food restaurant chains that specialize in fried chicken? Founded by Colonel Sanders in 1952, when he was nearly 40 years old. His recipe was rejected as many as 1009 times until it was accepted and became an instant hit, so much so, that today KFC has thousands of branches over the globe.

J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter series touched so many lives and continues to remain a phenomenon among its large fandom. J.K. Rowling published her first book from the series when she was 32, after being rejected by almost 12 publishers and completing the series by the age of 42. Incepted while waiting for a delayed train in 1992, an unknown single mother faced all hardships to become the best-selling author with her books banking in billions of dollars before being portrayed in blockbuster movies.

Julia Child

Now considered a cooking icon, Julia Child didn’t even start learning to cook till the age of 36. Before that, she planned to join the military and become a writer, in both of which she was turned away and couldn’t find her luck. She failed in her first cooking exam at a cooking school and the cookbook she co-wrote was initially rejected by Houghton Mifflin. Later Alfred A. Knopf published that book in 1961, and it turned out to be an instant commercial hit. By the age of 51, Julia Child hosted her first cooking show on PBS in 1963, turning her into a well-known face on TV in the coming decades.

Hence, accomplishments aren’t associated with pace. As an adult the best and worst thing can be, no one is present to tell us what to do, but everyone is ready to watch out for our next step. We have to solve our own problems and answer our own questions. So, the best thing to do would be to follow our instincts and not pay heed to what others have to say. There’s no point in shying away from trying something new or changing our field in the fear of failure. Success early or late, have more to do with our hard work and less with the time we took to achieve it.

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